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Telegraph, Dec 28, 2013: 'Everyone is guilty'

Privacy rights advocates see small bright spots 

I have nothing to hide, so they can know everything about me. That has been the social tenor in the privacy debate in recent years. And partly it is still the case. At privacy rights organisation Privacy First, they are horrified by that reasoning. But the advocates of decent handling of personal data now see bright spots.

The big problem with the databases the government is building is that they are completely at odds with the most important principle of our rule of law. Namely: you are a suspect and subject of investigation only upon reasonable suspicion. Nowadays, with the collection of information about all of us, the principle applies: everyone is guilty until proven guilty, says Privacy First director Vincent Böhre.

Founder of the organisation is Bas Filippini. As an entrepreneur, he made his fortune in the IT industry. As a result, he claims to be able to say first-hand that "the government is building a perfect electronic concentration camp.

This is all done from distrust of citizens, sighs Filippini. Most of these developments are technology-driven. Something is possible, so we are going to do it. There is far too little thought given to the question: 'Is it really necessary and what do we achieve with it?' All we can do in return are lawsuits and claims. You don't abide by the law? Hup a claim of a million on your trousers. We have a series of proceedings under way.

Fortunately, you can see that judges are receptive to arguments. For instance, we are particularly happy with the East Brabant District Court's ruling from November this year in the case brought by parking company SMS Parking. The court ruled that the tax authorities should not be allowed to request all parking data just because it would allow them to easily catch business drivers who do not pay their additional taxable benefit. As far as we are concerned, this really is a turning point.'

Source: Telegraph, Saturday, 28 December 2013, Reportage section, p. 5. Also Available online at